AVONDALE — As Oscar Olivares and his partner were leaving Sleeping Village Saturday night, Olivares offered to carry a crate of vinyl records to a friend’s car.
That nice gesture changed his life: A driver hit Olivares in the middle of Belmont Avenue, knocking out the 27-year-old as easily as if he were a doll, said his partner, Kelly Luu. The driver sped off without stopping.
“I thought he was dead. In my mind, it was registered that he was dead,” Luu said.
Luckily, Olivares didn’t suffer any major injuries in the hit-and-run. But the medical care he received at the hospital was extensive, and he’s now faced with a mountain of hospital bills he can’t afford to pay. Olivares doesn’t have medical insurance.
Friends of Olivares are rallying to help him pay the hospital bills and for any medical care he’ll need down the road, including therapy. An online fundraiser launched by Luu had raised more than $6,600 toward its $40,000 goal as of Thursday morning.
“It’s great knowing there’s people out there that are thinking about us,” Olivares said. “I never thought I’d be the one to use [GoFundMe], to actually ask for help … . There’s no way [we’d] be able to afford the hospital on our own.”
‘A Really Cruel, Cruel Thing To Do’
A driver hit Olivares and took off just after midnight outside of Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont Ave., police said.
It all happened so quickly, but Luu said the person who hit her partner was driving a Toyota Corolla. She said the incident was captured on video by a passing bus driver.
Police spokeswoman Sally Bown confirmed the make and model of the car, but she could not confirm there’s video of the hit-and-run.
Luu said she’s trying to get the video through a Freedom of Information Act request so they have a better understanding of what happened. At the time of the hit-and-run, Luu was hysterical, assuming Olivares was dead because he’d been knocked unconscious.
“You don’t just hit someone and run off. That’s just a really cruel, cruel thing to do,” she said.
After the crash, an unconscious Olivares was rushed to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where he received “many tests and scans,” Luu said. He was released from the hospital with only severe scrapes, bruises and stitches in his head.
“Considering the speed the car was going and the impact, this is a miracle we will never forget,” Luu said in the GoFundMe.
Now that Olivares is home recovering, the Avondale couple has turned their attention to the $40,000 hospital bill they can’t afford to pay. Olivares fixes cars on an occasional basis, while Luu, 28, works at Chicago Specialty Gardens as a landscape designer. Neither has medical insurance.
Luu said they applied for Medicaid after the hit-and-run, but they’re unsure how much it will cover.
Olivares began worrying about the cost of his medical care while he was still being treated at the hospital. After he regained consciousness, he asked Luu, “Did I ride in an ambulance?”
“I don’t like when we have to think about that kind of stuff in this country,” Luu said.
Though they are extremely grateful for the donations, Luu said they wish they didn’t have to turn to GoFundMe for help. Luu is among millions of Americans who have launched GoFundMe fundraisers to help pay for medical expenses.
“It’s not humane at all to charge this much money to save someone’s life or to give care to people who are vulnerable and don’t have access to it on a daily basis,” she said.
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